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Taylor Swift's references in 'The Tortured Poets Department' are like Lorelai Gilmore's pop culture ...
Taylor Swift Just Proved She’s The Lorelai Gilmore Of Songwriters

In The Tortured Poets Department, she’s the queen of references.

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There’s no doubt Taylor Swift is a lyrical genius — her 14 Grammys are proof enough — but the tortured poet has also proven she’s the Lorelai Gilmore of songwriters on her latest album. Similar to the fast-talking Gilmore Girls character, there are several pop culture references in The Tortured Poets Department that you may have missed in your first listen.

Anyone who has seen Gilmore Girls knows that aside from drinking coffee, name-dropping obscure pop culture references is Lorelai’s forte. One minute she could be talking about Mariah Carey's Glitter and the next she’s quoting A Streetcar Named Desire. With songs like “The Tortured Poets Department” and “The Black Dog,” Swift is proving she, too, has an encyclopedic knowledge of celebs, bands, and movies.

Let’s not forget Swift as an actual connection to the IRL Lorelei. Lauren Graham is a certified Swiftie. Not only have the two met, but they share a mutual love of one another. Perhaps some of that Gilmore Girls magic rubbed off on Swift, but instead of delivering a monologue while walking through Stars Hollow, the “Fortnight” singer is putting her references in lyrical form.

In TTPD, you may have caught the Charlie Puth namedrop and subtle reference to Lucy Dacus from boygenius, but there are several other pop culture nods you may have missed. Below are just a few to pay attention to in your next listen.

Charlie Puth In “The Tortured Poets Department”

In the second track on TTPD, Swift sings, “We declared Charlie Puth should be a bigger artist.” This is a very obvious nod to the “We Don’t Talk Anymore” singer, whom Swift is hinting should be more popular — which may be a controversial take for Selena Gomez fans.

Dylan Thomas In “The Tortured Poets Department”

Another namedrop in “The Tortured Poets Department” is Dylan Thomas, who has also been mentioned in Gilmore Girls. The Welsh “rock ‘n’ roll poet” appears in Swift’s song when she sings, “I laughed in your face and said, ‘You're not Dylan Thomas, I'm not Patti Smith / This ain't the Chelsea Hotel, we'rе modern idiots.’” Musicians like Bob Dylan and The Beatles were all inspired by Thomas’ work, so it’s fitting that he would be mentioned in TTPD.

In this case, Swift is saying that she doesn’t feel like she’s on the same level as someone so influential like Thomas. When he was mentioned in Gilmore Girls, Luke said, “No wine, no beer, no cooking sherry! It’s like Dylan Thomas just blew through town,” referencing the poet’s heavy drinking.

Patti Smith In “The Tortured Poets Department”

In the same line, Swift mentions Patti Smith, who is also a poet and singer-songwriter. Just like Thomas, Smith has a grand reputation, known as the “godmother of punk,” so she’s also someone Swift feels she can’t be compared to.

Smith is so influential that Rory mentions her in her valedictorian speech in Gilmore Girls. At graduation, she praises her mom Lorelai and says that she gave her role models from “Jane Austen to Eudora Welty to Patti Smith” to look up to.

Lucy Dacus In “The Tortured Poets Department”
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While Swift doesn’t say her full name, fans believe the Lucy mentioned in “The Tortured Poets Department” is boygenius’ Lucy Dacus. She says, “But you told Lucy you'd kill yourself if I ever leave / And I had said that to Jack about you, so I felt seen,” implying that Matty Healy — who fans believe the song is about — told Dacus his true feelings about Swift.

Jack Antonoff In “The Tortured Poets Department”

In the same line, the “Jack” mentioned is rumored to be Jack Antonoff, Swift’s longtime collaborator and producer of The Tortured Poets Department. In this case, Swift says she told Antonoff the same thing Healy told Dacus about how she felt.

“Cosmic Love” In “Down Bad”

Florence Welch is featured on “Florida!!!” off TTPD, but Swift also makes a slight reference to one of her songs in “Down Bad.” The lyrics, “for a moment, I knew cosmic love,” seems to nod to the Florence & The Machine song also titled “Cosmic Love.”

The Little Mermaid In “But Daddy I Love Him”
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There’s a subtle reference to Disney’s The Little Mermaid with Swift’s track “But Daddy I Love Him.” Ariel says that exact line to her dad King Triton in the animated film, when talking about Prince Eric.

The Blue Nile In “Guilty As Sin?”

Swift begins “Guilty as Sin?” with “Drownin' in The Blue Nile / He sent me ‘Downtown Lights’ / I hadn't heard it in a while,” which is a direct reference to the Scottish band that Healy is a massive fan of. The 1975 frontman said that The Blue Nile’s Hats heavily influenced his band’s sound, and “The Downtown Lights” is a song off that album.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? In “Who’s Afraid Of Little Old Me?”

Swift makes another subtle reference in “Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?” to the 1962 play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee. The film adaptation stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, whom the singer has previously referenced on her album Reputation. Then, she was comparing her relationship with Alwyn to the two actors, which is why some fans believed this song would be about Swift’s ex.

Clara Bow In “Clara Bow”
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One of the more obvious famous figures mentioned in The Tortured Poets Department is Clara Bow. The former Hollywood it girl inspired Swift’s 16th track. Bow is actually the reason we have the phrase “it girl,” because she became one of the most successful stars in the 1930s after appearing in the film It.

In “Clara Bow,” Swift sings, “You look like Clara Bow in this light, remarkable / All your life, did you know you’d be picked like a rose?” — comparing herself to the silver screen starlet.

Stevie Nicks In “Clara Bow”

Swift also mentions Stevie Nicks in “Clara Bow”: “You look like Stevie Nicks in ‘75, the hair and lips / Crowd goes wild at her fingertips, half moon shine, full eclipse.” In this case, Swift is saying she’s also been compared to Nicks, who first rose to fame in the ‘70s with Fleetwood Mac.

In Season 4, Episode 11 of Gilmore Girls, Lane Kim says, “I've always had a thing for Fleetwood Mac, I'm embarrassed to say,” adding to the Swift and GG connection.

The Starting Line In “The Black Dog”

In the bonus track “The Black Dog,” Swift not only mentions an actual pub in London, but pop-punk band The Starting Line. She sings, “I just don't understand how you don't miss me / In The Black Dog, when someone plays The Starting Line / And you jump up, but she's too young to know this song.”

One of the most popular songs from The Starting Line is “The Best of Me,” which was released in 2003 when Swift was a teenager. It’s also a song Matty Healy has covered in concerts several times.

American Pie In “So High School”
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In the extended version of The Tortured Poets Department, the 1999 film American Pie is referenced in the song “So High School.” This song is rumored to be about Swift’s current partner Travis Kelce, and she mentions the two of them watching the movie together: “I'm watchin' American Pie with you on a Saturday night.”

Peter Pan In “Peter”

Another track off The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology is “Peter,” which is inspired by J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. In the song, Swift sings about a former love interest she was hoping would make a return once he grew up: “You said you were gonna grow up / Then you were gonna come find me.”

Cassandra In “Cassandra”

Another very blatant mention is Cassandra, but few fans may know who the Greek priestess really is. According to the Brooklyn Museum, Cassandra was someone in Greek mythology who was given the gift of prophecy but no one would believe her. Right before “Cassandra” in The Anthology version of TTPD is the song “The Prophecy.”